Thursday, May 29, 2008

Photos of the Week

My nephew Beau...

My new creative outlet... (Don't laugh. I'm making this up as I go; if any of you have experience in watercolor-on-canvas, I'd love to learn from you! Here's my first baby. I call her "Trying." But look! You can tell those are clouds and mountains, can't you?!)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ridding myself of the "with" gods

I am loving my (albeit, very slow) trek through the Old Testament. This morning's "stop-and-meditate" verse was Exodus 20:23.

"You shall not make gods of silver to be with Me."

I've always known, "You shall not have any other god before Me" and "You shall not worship any other god besides Me," but here He says: "You shall not make gods to be WITH Me." The NIV reads, "alongside Me."

On a good day, I may not worship something or someone else more than God, but I'm sorely tempted (on a regular basis) to worship a few other things and people right alongside of Him. To make them equal with Him, as if He could ever have an equal.

In Psalm 50:21 God says, "You thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you."

Lord, You have no equal. Make my thoughts of you BIG today. Enlarge my heart to have HUGE emotions for You. Far outweigh my other loves, commitments, desires, and thoughts. Only then will other gods lose their power.

Photo of the Week

Monday we melted down in a pre-summer heat wave (101 degrees). Thursday afternoon it snowed. In Redlands, California. In the middle of May. I was wearing a knee-length skirt, short sleeves, and flip-flop heels. Have you ever crunched through the snow in flip-flop heels?

Here are a few camera-phone pictures from my drive home and my walk up to my condo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Her face was weathered,
Wrinkled, altogether
older now.
Facials and lotions,
Expensive beauty potions—
She had turned them in,
For in the end
When life was done,
She wanted her heart
To be the most beautiful part
Of her.
Sure, she missed that second glance—
That look of romance
from the men—
As in her younger days,
When beauty’s ways
Were upon her.
But now people stared long and hard…
At her heart,
Radiant on her face.
Plastic beauties who saw her walk by,
Envied her, the life in her eyes,
Which sparkled, undaunted by aging and time;
And almost mesmerized,
They asked her
The reason for her smile.
And she would—smile,
And then tell them…
(Oh, she told them) of the One
Who made her beautiful.

"Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within you..." (But are we giving them a reason to ask??)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I’m convinced that God has a sense of humor—where else would ours have come from?—and because He is God, it is an infinitely perfect sense of humor. If you’re ever in doubt, start looking for the comedic elements throughout Scripture. They will, at times, have you laughing out loud.

Take, for example, the poor Egyptian magicians who tried to compete with God in the Plague Showdown of 1446 B.C. I crack up every time I think of them trying to outdo Moses, and in the process, making their own water bloodier and land froggier. I mean, turning their staffs into snakes must have impressed the people (even if they were swallowed up by Moses’ serpent in the end). But were the Egyptians really applauding as they watched more of their drinking water bleed and picked twice the frogs off their bodies? Thanks a lot, guys.

However, when it came to gnats, these chumps were out of their league. Snakes, blood, and frogs were kid stuff. Gnats were obviously for the pros. Or should I say, the Pro.

Exodus 8:18 says that “the magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not.” I wrote a note in the margin of that verse that reads, “Why did You decide to stop the magicians at gnats?” It’s hilarious!

But it’s also such an evidence of God’s amazing sovereignty and control. He determines the exact boundaries of His enemies’ power. They have no more influence than He allows them to have. Whether it be gnats in Moses’ case or life-and-death in Job’s case, God says, “This is where you stop,” and his enemies stop.

I love the story of Abraham and Sarah. Love it! But I’d never noticed the humor of Genesis 18:13-15 until Beth Moore pointed it out in one of her Bible studies. Sarah not only lies to God but also argues with Him. Listen in…

“The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord?’ But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. He said, ‘No, but you did laugh.’”

Again, hilarious! Can you imagine? (Oh, wait. I can because I’ve done it myself. Sounded just like that, too…)

“I did not.”

“Did too.”

“Did not…”

God has determined certain events, He has promised certain things, and there’s no way He is going to be frustrated by us humans—and our hilarious ridiculousness. Sarah’s faithless laughing wasn’t going to stop Him. Moses’ enemies weren’t going to show Him up. And He is not wringing His hands over the messy details of our lives today. “He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26).

I don’t know about you, but this quiets my heart and helps me enjoy the adventure the Lord has planned for me!

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Psalm 16:5-6

Friday, May 9, 2008

To the anonymous giver of $500...

Thank you with all my heart. What an unbelievably generous, beautiful, and timely gift!

Were you aware of my need? I assume so... but whatever your motivation, you will never understand how tangibly the Lord cared for me through you. It's a gift I will never forget.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Your Maker is your husband." Isaiah 54:5

My heart is bubbling over tonight. No. Not bubbling over. Full? Overflowing? I guess what I'm feeling is described in the words of Isaiah 60:

"Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy..."

As John Piper says, joy isn't complete until it is expressed. But then, it's so hard to put into words my happiness in my Heavenly Bridegroom; I wish I could adequately boast in the One who has loved me perfectly and completely, provided for all of my needs, filled my heart with His joy, planned out my days in His loving sovereignty, and graciously allowed small sufferings along the way to woo me to Him (to make sure I don't settle for lesser loves).

How I love Him.

And to the anonymous giver of $500: Thank you for letting Christ love me through you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

"What is that in your hand?"

I have a pile of bills to be paid.
Several piles of papers to be graded.
A laundry pile that I've endearingly nicknamed "Mt. Everest."
A pile of soil in the back seat of my car (flower pot tipped over).
And a list of calls, texts, and emails to be returned... two weeks ago.

I just washed a pile of dishes in the sink tonight.

Just like yours, my hands are very full. Sometimes it's "fun full." Juggling a theater rehearsal, dinner party, and a coffee date doesn't exactly stress me out. But I admit, my enthusiasm wanes just a bit when it comes to paying bills, grading, and keeping that dentist appointment. It can even feel like spinning my wheels, causing me to ask the age-old question, "What's my motivation?" Shouldn't life be more... well, "more"? What's really being accomplished in all my daily tasks and obligations?

And then Exodus 4:2 reminds me that God uses the mundane and even monotonous to accomplish His awesome, holy purposes.

In response to Moses' objections to leading His people out of Egypt, God asks Moses, "What is that in your hand?"

"A staff," Moses said.

Or a red pen.
A bill.
A phone.
A load of laundry.

"Throw it on the ground," God instructed.

So Moses did, and it turned into a snake.

"Put out your hand and catch it by the tail"--so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand--"that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."

Sure the circumstances are a bit different: God was preparing Moses to perform awesome signs and wonders with this simple staff. But how much more could we, filled with God's Holy Spirit, glorify God and see Him do wonders in our lives when we simply offer to use what's in our hands?

Last week I dragged myself to Wednesday chapel. I was dying to "ditch" and use the time for other things: grading, running errands, catching up. But I knew I should be there. A student cornered me afterward to ask me some amazingly deep life questions. God was working in her heart, and we talked through our lunch break--even got teary-eyed together as we realized God had ordained a very special conversation. And I walked away with a very full heart as I realized that being faithful in a mundane responsibility meant an amazing ministry opportunity.

How many times have I missed such opportunities? Too many to count...

Lord, help us be faithful to wash these dishes, pay these bills, clean this house, talk to this person, and finish this task--with the confidence that You will take our humble service and use it to Your great glory and for Your awesome purposes!